, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 10 – Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo says he will back a Private Member’s Bill seeking to establish a Special Tribunal and disagreed with a Cabinet decision that trashed the tribunal idea two weeks ago.
In an exclusive interview with Capital News on Monday, Mr Kilonzo said he was glad that the backbenchers had finally been convinced that a local tribunal is the best solution to deal with the suspected perpetrators of post poll violence. The Minister, a strong proponent of the Special Tribunal of international standards, said he was ready to work with Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara and other backbenchers to ensure that the Bill goes through Parliament.
"It’s quite a challenge but I will join in every way to make sure that his proposals are taken for what they are," he said.
The Bill which is fronted by Mr Imanyara has similar propositions to the one rejected by the Cabinet and is reported to have the backing of a section of backbenchers now angered by Cabinet’s decision to abandon the trial of the suspected masterminds of the violence.
"It is good that Mr Imanyara has seen the writing on the wall on this. I think the original opposition to the Tribunal Bill by the backbenchers was probably not well thought of," he said. "I hope he has mobilised the numbers to push for a constitutional amendment."
Since it is a Constitutional Amendment, the Bill will require a two-thirds majority for it to pass which translates to 145 Members of Parliament.
Mr Kilonzo remained unapologetic in differing with the Cabinet decision that trashed what he termed as ‘a brilliant idea’ saying the resolve was just ‘a political statement’ championed by those who fear their names are contained in the famous Waki list. He regretted that narrow interests frustrated his idea of ensuring justice for those who suffered during the skirmishes.
"At no time did any of those who opposed it give a reason why they rejected it. All they said is that I could not strip the President his immunity or override the powers of the Attorney General and the Chief Justice. But didn’t all these exist when the violence happened?" an evidently frustrated Mr Kilonzo posed.
Some ministers disagreed with his proposals to strip the President his immunity and the Attorney General his powers to withdraw cases. After the meeting President Mwai Kibaki informed the country that the Cabinet had decided to expand the mandate of Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) and institute reforms in the police and the Judiciary and use these to deal with the violence.
However close to two weeks after being directed to come up with the required amendments to the TJRC Act, Mr Kilonzo said he was not going to prepare any amendments to the Act. The Minister said he was convinced that any changes would undermine the essence of the Commission and loose its intended mandate. He said he was worried expanding it would deter people from appearing before it.
"No Minister has suggested to me what expansion of the mandate they had in mind and there is no clarity as it stands. I have already talked to the Prime Minister and the Vice President about this," he said remaining defiant that the TJRC’s mandate would remain as originally envisaged.
Earlier in the day Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi expressed fears that the TJRC could handle an extended mandate. Mr Mudavadi questioned the ability of the Commission to address the post election violence given that most institutions that could support the Commission also stand accused.
"The TJRC was never intended to be a sole investigative agency," he said.
He however queried the bid to push for the establishment of a Special Tribunal by backbenchers saying the same people frustrated earlier efforts to form the court.